Zoom fatigue. It is one of many phrases none of us thought we would use in everyday conversation, but here we are.
Now, more than six months after a global pandemic, Zoom calling has quickly become the preferred alternative to face-to-face interactions, whether it’s a work meeting, happy hour, wedding, or birthday party. While it feels easy to jump to work on a Zoom call followed by virtual social events on evenings and weekends without ever leaving your home, the back-to-back chats can actually be exhausting.
Quick access to your co-workers, family, and friends likely provided much-needed convenience in early March and April. As the pandemic drags on, you may be less excited about the constant zooming. If so, it is a good idea to set some boundaries.
How did we get so zoom-centric?
According to Alycia Huston, a leadership advisor with over 20 years experience in neuroscience and empathy development, Zoom was there to fill the void when businesses and schools abruptly closed at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Zoom reached out to school districts and offered their services. So I think Zoom was at the forefront, ”says Huston. “They actually made the connection to get in touch and people saw how useful it was.”
She also says, “Zoom also helped make the transition easier, and by just I mean the paperback. It’s been free for educators for a while, and we all like free resources. Especially for schools where the budget is often limited. “
Why is it important to think about boundaries now?
A question you often ask yourself these days is, “Why am I so tired?” It is a strange feeling that many of us are experiencing more than usual, even though we may have fewer daily commutes and other strenuous physical activities. Still, the constant stimulation and focus required to sit on Zoom calls could play a role in the fatigue.
“The brain gets tired from overexertion,” says Huston. “Our brains process images, and when we saturate our eyes and brain with on-screen images of birthdays and graduations, those visual images cause the brain to become exhausted. This in turn leads to physical fatigue. “
When we were optimistic that the quarantine would only last a few weeks, it seemed prudent to fill our schedules with lots of Zoom calls in the meantime. Now that remote working and social distancing are part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future, such intense zoom marathons are less sustainable.
The what, when and how of setting boundaries
Still, in both your personal and professional life, it is easier said than done to sign out altogether. If you work between 9 and 5, you probably don’t have much control over how many Zoom meetings your boss schedules for you or how often they happen.
Nadia Brown, CEO and founder of The Doyenne Agency, a sales training organization for corporate employers, says it is a good idea to reach out to your boss with a few alternative options if you can’t readily tell.
“You have to weigh the situation carefully, especially if it’s professional,” recommends Brown. “If you can, try to make a day of the week your ‘zoom day’ so that you can use other days off the phone and get some work done. Ask your boss what could work for everyone. “
Other things that might help combat zoom fatigue are blocking pre- and post-meeting times to catch your breath and limiting non-urgent calls to one or two a week. For short or informal conversations, you can even suggest turning on video chats with “old-school” communication like a phone call. (Do you remember these?) Zoom seems like the best way to talk to people right now, but it’s okay to think outside the box when you’re feeling worn out.